Hi, Dr. Laura,
I'm 24 years old and finally, I'm doing the right thing. And the thing I'm doing that is oh-so-right is I learned to listen and respond to feedback, in all its forms. I was hoping that you could share this with your listeners, because it's a life lesson that I am so grateful to have learned early in this life.
As a child, I was afraid if I did things wrong it meant a host of awful things I was stupid, I didn't listen well, I was annoying people, I was high maintenance. I would love to be able to tell you that that made me a perfectionist, but it didn't, I was still the same person who made the same human mistakes. Instead of owning up to them, however, I would defend my error and justify it, saying, "This is MY way of doing it, your way is STUPID." My father was never big on the lovey-dovey oh-so-sweet compliments (It was never, "Sweetheart! That is the best drawing of a cat I've ever seen!", it was always, "Cats don't have stick legs, try to draw that leg so it has more depth, and make sure it attaches to the shoulder"), and so I cut him out of anything I did for fear of criticism. He never saw the play I wrote be acted out at my high school, he never saw when I made those baskets on the basketball team, he never met my friends, and that was the way I wanted it at the time. I wish I could go back and change all that.
My life became violently thrown off track when I was 19, and by the time I was 23, I was living with my parents again and trying to repair the shattered pieces of a career and a future that I had destroyed by shacking up, making poor choices, and insisting that I never needed advice from anyone. My dad sat me down, and as usual, I didn't get the, "Sweetheart, you have made the best choices I have ever seen!" talk, I got the, "Let's break down where you went wrong" talk. I hated that talk. But this time he started it slightly differently, and I think this is a message people need to hear, and you're really my only avenue to broadcast this. Here's what he said:
"There is a profound difference between people who fail and people who succeed. That difference is the same difference as people who reject criticism, and those who take criticism as motivation." He explained that other people could see how off track I was going, but I was screaming too loudly to hear their warnings. I could take offense to what people said, or I could take it as a challenge to be better. My father failed in life, too, but he listened, and when people offered him advice he heard it calmly and coolly. He took the pieces of advice he liked, discarded the rest, but became a better person because he understood his shortcomings and worked to improve them.
Listening to your show, I could take offense to a lot of what you say, but I've learned that I (and everyone else on the planet, for that matter) should listen to your oft-blunt criticisms and take them for what they are: a way to help us see where we went off track. So, thanks.